Instal, the annual festival of experimental music in Glasgow, has attracted equal amounts

of flack and praise in its six year existence. Critic Neil Cooper and Instal curator Barry Esson go head to head to debate its pros and cons in a virtual dialogue.

Neil Cooper lnstal's now in its sixth year. and has grown considerably since it started. I’m not convinced. though. that bigger is necessarily better. Barry Esson If you're into this kind of music already. then of course you‘ll be happy to see more of it. If you don‘t know much about it and fancy trying to find otrt more. then if there are more acts. over a wider range of styles then hopefully you've got an even better chance of finding something you love. NC When lnstal started. l.e Weekend in Stirling and liree Radi(‘(‘Als at the (‘(‘A were running. Now. there's Kill Your Timid Notion. Subcun‘ent and Dialogues. That‘s a very crowded arena for what's essentially a small marketplace for ‘Ieft field music.’ BE I don‘t understand how anybtxly could seriously argue for less diversity in Scotland‘s cultural calendar (nobrxly complains ifa new indie music lestival stzuts up) the live music scene in (ilasgow is in rude health because people in Scotland love seeing live music. Thith not a ‘small mzu‘ket place’. 'lhe guys at ()ptimo go nuts for some of the acts we book. NC The musical landscape has changed over the last five years. lnstal‘s provided opportunities for international acts. but homegrown acts have been seriously thin on the ground. You‘re addressing it now. but. given a thriving noise scene in Scotland. it's taken a long time for Instal to acknowledge it. BE We should be honest enough to say that there aren't hundreds of Scottish musicians who‘ve been about for years hanging out experimental music classics: there are a few. and we've supported them. Instal features the best international work from people who are unmatched anywhere. alongside great local talent. There's been a surge in good work in Scotland recently and the 20 Scottish musicians playing this year (way more than any other event like this in the UK) reflect this. I think that‘s progress and I’m proud that we're doing it. NC There‘s been a shift away from electronically inclined output to more acoustic based instruments. What‘s happening now in terms of utilising sounds developed in the l‘)()()s could also be seen as not much different from the slew of derivative guitar bands. BE I don‘t know if you've looked at the programme for this year’s festival but I can't see where your frame of reference for this argument starts: out of 2‘) performances this year. only four will feature guitars and all of those acts have something exciting to say.

liach of the artists we work with are doing something individualistic and bold. whether trying to invent their own musical language or re-birthing living traditions.

Take Arrington de [)ionyso. playing lnstal this year. who listens to free jazz. Tuvan throat singing. American revenant singers and backwoods jaw harp players. and thinks that somehow all of those things must come

10 THE LIST 5—19 Oct 2006


together if he is to express his own vision. then gets on stage knowing he might sound era/y to free ja/Iers and throat singers alike: it‘s new to him. and probably everybody who might come to Instal. It‘s certainly brave. NC The ll’in' magazine‘s review of Instal 2005 suggested that at times the audience were lapping up anything that was thrown at them without using any critical faculties. The implication was one ofemperor‘s new clothes. What often looks and sounds like over- excited idolatry makes me suspicious.

BE That review starts off saying Instal is the l'K‘s ‘best oasis for new weirdness‘ before saying ‘the audience were generous to a fault . . . I would argue that they were seriously at fault but once‘. The reviewer didn‘t like everything that year. but generally thought the event was great. I'm totally fine with that. We want people to feel like they can come along. take a risk and not worry if not everything is to their taste. We‘re trying to give newcomers to this scene a chance to lind something they like.

NC I’m not even sure lnstal is ‘underground' at all. Mark li Smith of The Fall got it right on 'New l’uritan': ‘The conventional is now experimental/ The experimental is now conventional.‘ Some of Kylie Minogue‘s music. I‘d say. is as significant as that of John (‘age.

BE I‘m not saying objectively that underground music is better or morally superior to any other form of music. There‘s a place in our society fora diversity of voices. and every/body’s free to decide what floats their boat: we just want to broaden the choice people have. The artists we support are certainly not mainstream. Many finance their own records. play live because they want/have to. and make little money in doing so. To be driven by a desire to create music that your emotions. your personality. demand; to give voice to and express them in a way that is pure and tnre to you. takes guts and however you classify their work. it's bloody admirable.

Instal, Arches, Glasgow, Fri 13-Sun 15 Oct.



I Rumours of his retirement from the rap game have clearly been exaggerated as Emlnem has begun on a new D12 album. Plus. Mr Mathers has a new mixtape entitled Eminent Presents: The Re-Up. due out in December, containing six marvellous new tunes . . . Jake Gyllenhaal has joined the cast of Rendition alongside Reese Witherspoon. He plays a CIA analyst based in Cairo whose world crashes out of control after he witnesses the interrogation of a foreign national by the Egyptian secret police. Reese plays the pregnant American wife of said tortured guy . . . American TV execs are clearly desperate for a show to be dubbed 'the next Prison Break' as Donnie Wahlberg stars in upcoming drama Runaway about a chap who is falsely accused of a nasty crime and has to clear hlS name. bladdy blah etc . . . Hot cheeks George Clooney is to direct and star in a new romantic comedy about American football, of all things. Renee Zellweger is in talks to co-star in Leatherhead. set at the time of the spon's formation in the 19205 . . . Catherine Tate has nabbed her first headline role in a movie, playing a real-life Cold War heroine. Mrs Ratc/iffe's Revolution features a mother who uprooted her family from Bolton to East Germany during the 19603 . . . Her fellow British comic Johnny Vegas is sticking to the small screen. Ben/dorm will be ITV's latest attempt at producing anything remotely funny and with co- stars such as Nicholas Burns (Nathan Barley) and Steve Pemberton (League of Gentlemen), it certainly sounds promising.